10 facts you should know about diabetes

| Written by sgammon
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November is National Diabetes Awareness Month. The designation is intended to increase public understanding of the disease, including its prevalence, screening and prevention, treatment options, and resources for the more than 29 million men, women, and children in the United States affected by the disease.

Did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States? Read on to learn 10 more facts about diabetes that you may—or may not—know.

  1. There are at least three types of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
  2. Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, accounts for about 5 to 10 percent of diabetics and is a chronic condition in which the pancreas produces little or no insulin, a hormone needed to allow sugar (glucose) to enter cells and produce energy.
  3. Type 2 diabetes, previously known as adult onset diabetes, accounts for about 90 to 95 percent of diabetics and occurs when the body either becomes resistant to insulin or doesn’t produce enough insulin to maintain glucose levels.
  4. Pregnant women may develop gestational diabetes, which can be harmful to both mother and child. Gestational diabetes tends to clear up greatly or improve after birth.
  5. The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated type 2 diabetes as an emerging global epidemic that can be traced to rapid increases in weight, obesity, and physical inactivity.
  6. If left uncontrolled, all types of diabetes lead to persistently elevated blood-sugar levels that can cause multiple health problems that damage your eyes, kidneys, nerves, blood vessels, and can cause heart disease and stroke.
  7. Type 1 diabetics require daily insulin injections to manage their blood sugar. In contrast, many people with type 2 diabetes can control their blood glucose by following a healthy meal plan and a program of regular exercise. Gestational diabetes treatment includes eating balanced meals, getting regular excercise, and taking diabetes medicine and insulin shots.
  8. A Harvard study showed that eating one serving of oatmeal five or six times a week was linked to a 39 percent reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes.a
  9. Ancient doctors would test for diabetes by tasting the urine of a suspected sufferer of diabetes. Sweet urine is high in glucose, suggesting the presence of diabetes.b
  10. Today, blood tests are used to diagnose diabetes. The tests measure glucose and hemoglobin A1c, a form of hemoglobin that becomes modified when exposed to persistent, excessive glucose levels.

To learn about Sanford-Burnham’s efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat diabetes, see the following links:


A new way to generate insulin-producing cells in type 1 diabetes A new link between obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance Genes promote hardening of arteries in type 2 diabetes Replacing insulin though stem cell-derived pancreatic cells under the skin


a Adamec, Christine. 2002. The Encyclopedia of Diabetes. New York, NY: Facts on File, Inc. b Eisenstat, Stephanie. 2007. Diabetes: What You Need to Know to Lower Your Risk and Beat the Odds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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